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Jul 17, 2006 05:50 PM

The Maple Syrup Problem: An Ethico-Culinary Dilemma [moved from General Topics]

There is a certain breakfast eatery that serves delicious crepe-style pancakes. Unfortunately, they serve them with imitation maple syrup. I would gladly pay extra for the real deal if it were available (the prices are so low anyway)—but it is not. Is it wrong, oh wise Chowhound masses, to bring my own maple syrup to this restaurant? If not, how should I go about it?

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  1. I bring my own hot sauce places so can't imagine anyone would have problem w/ syrup. Now if you were bring the *fake* stuff I could see them having an issue.

    1. I suppose it depends on restaurant policy. If they don't care, then neither should you.

      I used to bring Boylan's sodas into my favorite pizzeria because all they served was Coke and Diet Coke.

      1. I don't think it's wrong at all! I would just bring the amount that you intend to use in a small container and put it on your pancakes without saying anything. If you're not comfortable with that, tell your server when you order...maybe if you explain that you "would gladly pay extra for the real deal if it were available" they will consider making it an option. If there's an issue tell them you avoid hfcs or things with artificial flavors.

        Anyway, I understand where you're coming from, I won't order pancakes from a place that doesn't offer real maple syrup!

        1. I can't see why they should have a problem with you bringing in a condiment that is not charged ( I assume) separately. Also, since at some point they will get curious about it, and ask most lkikely ask you why you're doing so, you'll have a great change to make a little statement about importance of quality syryp. Who knows, maybe they'll get better stuff too, and make it available for extra charge, or come up with some other solution to provide it.

          5 Replies
          1. re: hlwd_marko

            I totally agree with hlwd_marko. I've taken sorghum with me to when I know I'm going out for pancakes or waffles because it's my favorite thing to have on them, and most people have never heard of sorghum. The perfect amount fits into a travel sized shampoo bottle and I use it rather inconspicuously. I have had servers come up and say that they had real maple if I preferred, but when I told them it was sorghum they look kind of puzzled. BTW, I always keep a tin of Kosher salt in my purse and nowhere I've ever eaten has made a deal of it.

            1. re: Non Cognomina

              Well, you have DEFINITELY piqued my interest!
              Tell us more about sorghum...can the taste be described, or perhaps compared to something most of us might have tried...karo, treacle, golden syrup, maple...etc?

              btw..I would not give it a second thought to bring any condiment not supplied by a restaurant...they are happy to have me as a customer..and I am taking care of a need which they have not.

              1. re: ChowFun_derek

                Sorghum is a syrup made from the sorghum plant, a crop that is cultivated mostly in the midwest and south of the United States, as well as in other countries. Just as sugar cane is boiled down to make molassas, so sorghum cane is boiled down to make sorghum syrup. It has the viscosity of honey, and its color ranges from a light brown to almost black, with the concentration of flavor deepening with the increased darkness of the syrup.

                Sorghum has a unique flavor. It seems a disservice to compare it to another flavor, as there really isn't another flavor like it. How would one describe the flavor of a plum other than "it tastes like a plum?" The best I can say is its flavor is less biting than molassas, more complex than brown rice syrup, and nothing like honey or corn syrup.

                My grandma grew up in central Missouri and her family had sorghum on their farm. She told me wonderful stories of how boiling it down took about 3 days. They did it in a big kettle over a fire out in back of the house, and it had to be stirred and stirred and stirred. It was torturous to endure the intoxicating sweetness in the air until it had properly cooked and cooled.

                As for where to get it, The Cracker Barrel country restaurants used to carry it, and that's where I got it for a long time. They discontinued carrying it in the stores near where I have relatives, so I usually pick it up wherever I can find it when I'm travelling around the country. There are a few specialty/gourmet stores where I have found it in the Bay Area, but I find they are priced sometimes more than 5 times what I can get them for in the Midwest or South.

                When buying sorghum, be sure to read the ingredient label. I've found some that are a mixture of sorghum and cane syrup or glucose. I think they do that for shelf stability as sorghum can crystalize if not used within a year. But I've never really found it to be a problem. Ingredients should read only "sorghum syrup" or "pure sorghum." "Sweet Sorghum" is a designation that the syrup has come from that specific variety of sorghum plant, which I find is too sweet for my liking.

                Give sorghum a try! Perhaps I should start a thread about it....

                1. re: Non Cognomina

                  Thanks so much for your very complete explanation! I must try some...I am in S.F. where did you find the stuff in the Bay Area...or...Is there a website from which you've ordered it?

                  1. re: Non Cognomina

                    ChowFun_derek, I saw Sorghum at Sunshine Foods in St. Helena and Ranch Market, Too in Yountville, both in Napa Valley. Both places are kind of a hike from SF! They might have it at the Berkeley Bowl.

                    As for an online vendor, try any of the following. I have not purchased sorghum online, and you may want to call just to make sure you are buying pure sorghum.




            2. This topic was on the Not About Food Board a while back. The restaurant owners(s?) who said they would not allow it cited insurance liability. I'd ask.

              Bringing own condiments to restaurants?


              3 Replies
              1. re: rworange

                Ya know, I actually started that thread and having read through all of the replies and thinking about it a bit more, I must say that I don't really think the liability issue is really an issue ...

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  yeah, if liability were really an issue I don't think any restaurants would be BYO!

                2. re: rworange

                  See, that's why you shouldn't mention it ;) Bring it in a flask and apply surreptitiously ...